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Creating the WitnessDocumenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet$
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Leshu Torchin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816676224

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816676224.001.0001

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Screen Media and Witnessing Publics

(p.1) Introduction
Creating the Witness

Leshu Torchin

University of Minnesota Press

This book explores the role of screen media—namely film, video, and the Internet—in creating virtual witnesses to genocide over the past 100 years. It shows how the faith in the model of revelation leading to action has been enhanced by the proliferation and development of audiovisual media technologies, whose mimetic capacities make claims of visible evidence and whose circuitry facilitates eyewitness testimony and witnessing at great distances. Challenging the notion that there is a seamless trajectory from observing an atrocity to acting in order to intervene, the book argues that having a camera is not enough. Rather, images of genocide require an ideological framework to reinforce the messages the images are meant to convey. The book presents various examples of witnessing and genocide, including the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust (engaging film as witness in the context of the Nuremburg trials), and the U.S.-based international human rights organization WITNESS and its use of video to publicize human rights advocacy and compel action.

Keywords:   screen media, film, video, Internet, virtual witnesses, genocide, audiovisual media, eyewitness testimony, witnessing, human rights

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